Do you work in fear? It can be a scary thought. In today’s tough economy, fear rears its ugly head in offices far and wide. Your office may be one of the unfortunate victims. How can you tell? Here are 10 signs of a fear-infested workplace:
1. Image is king. The company motto is to keep your head down and look busy. Everyone works hard to avoid looking foolish or making mistakes, instead of working hard to accomplish something.
2. Backstabbers have your back. Blame and gossip run rampant. In fact, sometimes you wonder if your phone is bugged.
3. Pets are rewarded. Promotions and praise go to workers who tirelessly kiss up and bend over backwards to flatter the boss, instead of to those who actually get things done.
4. Messengers are killed. The brave souls who dare to speak the truth or bring up bad news invariably vanish at the end of the quarter, leaving behind a pink slip.
5. Silence is golden. When your boss or manager walks into a room, all conversation immediately dies.
6. Rules rule. Just as the iPhone has an app for everything, management has a rule for everything. But unlike the iPhone, you can’t turn the rules off or accidentally run them over with your car.
7. Mystery reigns supreme. No one knows what mood the boss is in – bad, worse, or time to pray for blessed salvation. No one can guess what torture the boss is planning in that cunning and devious mind.
8. It’s all about the numbers. Never mind hard work, dedication, creativity, and critical thinking. All that matters are the numbers.
9. Change is a 4-letter word. When an office is dominated by fear, anything new or different is a threat to the status quo. And to the boss. There’s no rocking the boat.
10. Overload is overdone. You work late every day, even when you have little work to do. And you bring your work home with you every night. That way, you avoid the chopping block. Schedule, schmedule.
Sound like your company? You’re not alone. Many managers think fear motivates employees to get more done, but studies show otherwise. Fear destroys trust, productivity, and morale. It snuffs out innovation and initiative. You can’t do your best if you’re worried about saying the wrong thing or making one tiny mistake.
If your company isn’t among the enlightened, what can you do? Here are some ways to make the most of a fear-whipped workplace:
• Stay connected. Keep in touch with people inside and outside your company. Having connections can come in handy, especially if you’re looking for a better job.
• Keep your skills up-to-date and learn new skills. You’ll add more value to your company, and if your company ever does let you go, you’ll have a sharper résumé.
Plus, having connections and skills gives you a secret weapon – in the back of your mind, you’ll know you have options.
• Behave respectfully. Even if others show you disrespect, keep your head and your words out of the gutter.
• Show interest in others. Learn about them and their world. Give credit. If someone does a great job, let him or her know. You’ll shock the person and just maybe, make him or her feel good.
• Stay positive. Just as fear can be contagious, so can positive energy. Keep your body open, relaxed, and upright. Breathe easy. Keep your mind focused on what you can do.
• Accept your fear. You’re not the only one feeling that way – your boss, supervisors, and coworkers are probably feeling the same thing. Forgive yourself, and forgive them.
While you can’t always change your boss, your coworkers, or your office environment, you can change how you act and react. So give fear a good kick in the you-know-where. You have the power to take charge and move ahead in your career and your life!